Martinez backs Jelavic to have a strong season with Everton

The Spaniard has been impressed with the Croatia international in pre-season and praised the striker after he scored twice in a 3-1 friendly win at Blackburn
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is backing striker Nikica Jelavic to have a strong season at Goodison Park after scoring twice in a 3-1 friendly win at Blackburn.

The Croatia international endured a difficult campaign at Goodison Park last term, with just eight goals in 43 appearances and is wanted by Hamburg who claim the Toffees want to sell the 27-year-old.

However, Martinez feels scoring goals is a team effort and has been impressed with Jelavic’s efforts in pre-season so far.

"A goalscorer is a goalscorer," Martinez told reporters. "In modern football it is a bit unfair to rely on one player to score 20 or 25 goals.

"If you don’t do well as a team, you won’t get the striker in good positions. And that’s what we are starting to develop now, a team that can be strong on the ball and create enough chances for our strikers to take.

"What we saw today is that Jelavic has come back with really strong intentions of having a good season."

Kevin Mirallas opening the scoring for the Toffees at Ewood Park, before Jelavic’s two goals, and Martinez is delighted with the strength in depth he has at his disposal.

"It is very important to have competition in any squad," he added.

"It's really pleasing when you have got Nikica Jelavic, Arouna Kone and Victor Anichebe, who has been playing really well in the last two games before today.

"There is Apostolos Vellios as well so that shows you the competition that you want in the squad going forward.

"And as you saw today, Jelavic showed us he’s desperate to work hard and get as many minutes to help the team.

"I’m really pleased with the shape he has come back in and the focus he has brought. I’m really excited for the next three weeks to see how these four strikers develop before the first league game."

Defender Sylvain Distin echoed his new manager’s thoughts, and insisted competition for places can only be a good thing.

"I always say that if you don’t want competition you better stop playing football," he said. "The more competition, the better the team.

"It is a bigger squad, so far we haven’t lost any players and have brought in three or four good quality players. That’s good, we have always had a small squad.

"Kone looks really sharp in training. He’s a powerful player, he’s fast and good with the ball so he’s definitely going to be impressive."